AI Continues Its Inroads Into Brazil’s Health Sector
By Alex McFarland  |  Sep 23, 2021
AI Continues Its Inroads Into Brazil’s Health Sector
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Brazil was slow off the mark to embrace the possibilities of new technologies when AI announced itself in dramatic fashion at the turn of the new century, but now, the nation is leading the race in South America. Alex McFarland looks at how Brazil got up to speed with a new game plan to address its shortcomings, and nowhere is this more evident than in healthcare.

RIO DE JANEIRO - Brazil was among the countries to fall behind in artificial intelligence (AI) implementation during the AI boom at the turn of the millennium. However, Latin America’s largest nation ranked 40 out of 192 countries in Oxford Insights’ AI Readiness Index 2019, showing it has taken massive strides in this field. This is most apparent in the healthcare sector. AI technologies will play a big role in Brazil’s future economy, and the nation leads the race in South America. The country made big leaps in the previous four years, a 2019 study by Stanford University found, quickly becoming one of the top five countries in the world, and with the fastest growth in AI hiring. AI will boost annual growth rates in South America by a full percentage point of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2035, a forecast by Accenture predicted. This means US$432 billion added to the Brazilian economy.

Brazil launched a new strategy at the beginning of 2021 to address the ethical use of AI to advance research and innovation. Six objectives comprise the strategy: develop ethical principles that guide responsible use of AI, remove barriers to innovation, improve collaboration between government, the private sector, and researchers, develop AI skills, promote investment in technologies, and advance Brazilian tech overseas.

Hitting Health

AI is being implemented on many fronts in Brazil’s healthcare sector. Analytics is a global trend, but it is even more relevant in Latin America given the different demographic and socioeconomic makeups of the various countries. In Brazil, one application is the evaluation of public healthcare policies, more specifically, the impact of hospital-based breastfeeding interventions on infant health. With over three million births per year, 10 percent of them premature, around 25 percent of Brazilian hospitals implement initiatives aime

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